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Nepal averted childhood malnutrition crisis despite 2015 earthquake: Study

Press Trust of India  |  Washington 

averted a major childhood crisis despite widespread destruction and severe agricultural-related losses caused by the 2015 earthquake, a study has found.

Researchers from the and in the US found that indicators of childhood improved or remained stable a year after the hit.

The study, published in November by PLOS One, also found that household decreased significantly over the same period.

The 2015 in caused over USD 7.1 billion in losses to infrastructure and economic production and killed nearly 9,000 people and injured nearly 22,000.

Extensive losses related to and delivery raised concerns that could worsen.

To prevent this, substantial humanitarian relief efforts were spearheaded by the government of Nepal, the UN and NGOs.

"Our findings raise the question of whether the improved nutrition and in these areas a year after the may have been due to the aid pouring into these areas, the ongoing nutrition and agriculture aid programs that were already operating in the area, or the resilience of these communities," said Andrew Thorne-Lyman, at

"The most important thing is, according to multiple indicators, a nutrition crisis was averted," said Thorne-Lyman.

For their study, researchers analysed data from the same hardest-hit districts in Nepal, both in 2014 and 2016. In both years, data were collected from over 900 households and approximately 2,000 women and children.

The study found that child wasting -- a term that describes weight and body-mass loss -- declined significantly in the study areas, from 4.5 per cent to 2.1 per cent.

Child wasting is an indicator of a child's thinness that is often used to evaluate a post-disaster nutrition situation. Children who shows signs of wasting are also at an elevated risk of death.

The researchers also found that child stunting -- being too short for their age -- declined from 23.1 to 21.6 per cent in the study period, although the decline was not statistically significant.

Stunting is associated with cognitive impairments such as delayed motor development, impaired function and poor school performance.

in the study region decreased significantly from 17.6 per cent to 12.4 per cent between 2014 and 2016.

is broadly defined as not having sufficient access to safe and nutritious foods needed for a healthy life.

Researchers also asked household members to recall any shocks experienced the previous year, including death of a family member, structural damage to their house and crop and livestock losses.

These statistics were compared for 2016 against 2014 data from the same study. As expected, due to the quake, losses were much more severe in 2016 than in 2014.

For example, while fewer than two per cent of households reported damage to their house in 2014, nearly half did so in 2016.

Crop and animal loses increased to 20 per cent and there were twice as many deaths reported in households in 2016 compared to 2014.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, January 10 2019. 14:00 IST